November 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the November 2021 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

States' Deadlines for Green Schools Applicants Are Fast Approaching!

Many states' application periods for 2021-22 cycle U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) nominees will be closing around the holidays. These deadlines vary by state. State educational agencies often collaborate with other state agencies and partners to administer the ED-GRS recognition award and will submit their nominations to the Department by Feb. 18, 2022 (an extension from the original Feb.1, 2022 state submission deadline). Check to see if your state participates in ED-GRS by locating your state recognition award administrator. Alternatively, you can contact your chief state school officer or state higher education executive officer. Hearing from interested schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions often helps states determine whether to make nominations. 

Director's Award Recipient Joe DaSilva and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten

The 2022 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award: Nominations Due March 1

The Director’s Award recognizes state education authorities’ exemplary efforts to administer ED-GRS. At the 2021 ED-GRS ceremony, Joseph DaSilva received the Director's Award on behalf of the Rhode Island team from Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, pictured above. Annually, the Director’s Award goes to the state education official who does the most to advance sustainable education in his or her state. If you wish to nominate a state education official, please send your nomination letter to by March 1, 2022. Any state education official who is involved in implementing the ED-GRS award, and who has not previously won the Director’s Award, is eligible for nomination. Read about the work of past ED-GRS Director’s Award recipients


Honoring Classified School Employees

ED received 25 nominations from 15 states for the second annual Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, which honors and promotes education support professionals who provide exemplary service, including school nutrition, maintenance, paraprofessional, security, and transportation employees. The federal review is now underway, with peer reviewers completing two rounds to select semifinalists, and these semifinalist nominations will be submitted to the Secretary of Education for a final selection. In January, ED will announce a single national honoree and encourage all states to recognize their nominees in order to inspire excellence and innovative practices among classified school employees. More information is available online. Governors’ offices may contact with any questions. The deadline for 2023 nominations will be Nov. 1, 2022.

Meet the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Congratulations to the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. View the honorees and read about their work on the Green Strides’ website and on ED’s awards page. Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.  

Flance Center pumpkin seed lesson

Flance Early Learning Center; St. Louis, Missouri

Flance Early Learning Center serves a diverse population of children between ages 6 weeks and 6 years. Daylighting is used in 90% of the building, every classroom has immediate access to the outdoors, and classrooms are named for trees native to Missouri. Seventy-five percent of the school roof is covered with reflective materials, and the HVAC system can be controlled remotely. Rainwater collected from the Flance Center roof is captured in two 8-foot covered cisterns, which is then used to water and irrigate the garden. Flance received a donation of three compost bins, 30 recycling bins, two recycling carts, and numerous educational materials to help young pupils learn to practice good recycling habits. As a designated EnVision Center by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since May 2020, the early learning center has provided over 25 tons of free, fresh produce valued at over $180,000 to families and local community neighbors via a weekly free fresh food box program. Flance’s garden consists of 20 raised beds in which students grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Urban Harvest helps with nutrition education in the on-site community garden. A school chef prepares nourishing meals, including organic baby food, incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. A display kitchen allows the school chef to conduct cooking demonstrations for families.

Christ the King Catholic School vermiculture

Christ the King Catholic School; Jacksonville, Florida

Over the years, Christ the King Catholic School (CTK) has enlarged spaces for STEM collaboration, built outdoor areas for gardening and observation, and developed a comprehensive agricultural program. Today, CTK offers mentoring and tours to staff from other schools, who visit to learn how to incorporate hands-on learning into their curriculum. Through annual Green Apple Day of Service projects and with financial support from the community, CTK has developed a five-acre outdoor classroom with a viewing deck and nature trails, a 700 square-foot raised bed garden, a water recovery system, solar panels, butterfly gardens, a chicken coop, and a blueberry house. Students collect organic matter for composting, manage vermicomposting, and utilize recovered rainwater for agricultural purposes. CTK installed two solar panels connected to the school’s electrical grid. Students monitor energy output and research the effects of weather and panel placement on energy production. CTK offers a salad bar that serves as an integral part of its agricultural program and developed its own nutrition curriculum. Leveraging its creek, wetlands, and acreage, CTK fosters opportunities for students to test water quality and learn about natural springs and creeks and how St. Johns River feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.

Gamble Montessori Garden

James N. Gamble Montessori High School; Cincinnati, Ohio

James N. Gamble Montessori is located in the heart of Cincinnati on a 14-acre campus featuring four outdoor classrooms and an extensive land lab with a maple grove, arboretum, spring bulb garden, permaculture orchard, raised beds for edible plantings, and kitchen herb garden. Every aspect of the school garden and orchard is maintained by students. They plan, build, plant, cultivate, maintain, and harvest. The Agriculture Career and Technology program is preparing the campus for a pollinator garden, a high tunnel hoop house, and an aeroponic tower garden. The environmental science curriculum covers a wide range of topics from biodiversity and ecological relationships; food production; water, air quality, and pollution; climate change; and human impacts on environmental systems to politics, ethics, and social justice. Students are involved in biodiversity labs, tree phenology studies, water quality tests, mock climate summits, and seminar discussions. During Intersessions, students get out into the world to connect community service to their in-class learning with practical life skills, hiking in the Smoky Mountains, whitewater rafting, urban farming and sustainability, animal rescue, and conservation. Students keep journals, discuss challenging issues relating to social justice and environmental sustainability, perform acts of community service, and synthesize their experiences into professional-grade presentations.

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Student made moccasins, Two Eagle River

Two Eagle River School; Pablo, Montana

Two Eagle River School is a Bureau of Indian Education school, serving roughly 100 students, all of whom are eligible for free lunch, and it is run by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. Two Eagle River conducted an energy audit with Bonneville Power Administration, developed a comprehensive recycling program, and built a school garden. The school added programmable thermostats, power strips, and more efficient lighting. Two Eagle River requested recycling bins from the county. Students sort and audit the recycling, and teachers take it to a center monthly. The school has reduced paper use through a grant, making it possible to offer iPads to all students. Two Eagle River has several transportation efficiency strategies in place to reduce unnecessary mileage in its rural area. School sustainability programming emphasizes traditional beliefs, values, and ways of living, including care for the land, animals, and people; respect for Mother Earth; stories and seasons; and honoring elders’ wisdom. The efforts of the wellness committee to increase the nutrition of the food served at the school is evident in the school’s Thanksgiving feast, which features traditional foods such as elderberry soup, huckleberries, salmon, and bison. The school also sponsors barbecues, traditional Native American games, and a powwow. Students engage in experiential and place-based learning activities, such as salmon monitoring and weekly field walks. The school connects science, culture, and craft in the butchering and skinning of animals, quilting, and teepee making. 

Resources and Opportunities

Center for Green Schools 2021 Logo

Participate in a National Survey on Air Quality Measures in K-12 Schools 

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, with technical support from ASHRAE, is conducting a national survey to understand how indoor air quality (IAQ) strategies have been used by schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey data that is collected will be anonymized and will inform a national report. The short, 20-minute survey may be taken by a school district facilities manager or similar official by Nov. 30. 

Department logo, COVID mitigation by the numbers

COVID Mitigation Resources

The Department of Education, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new COVID-19 data dashboard to help the public keep track of the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 schools. Data is updated each week and presented geographically so that educators and families can understand the impact of COVID in their communities. Additionally, on Nov. 4, the CDC officially recommended that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNtech pediatric vaccine. To learn more about getting vaccinated or setting up a vaccine clinic at your school or community, visit Finally, to keep schools open and safe, the Department, alongside the CDC and the Rockefeller Foundation, is providing resources to states and schools for testing and other mitigation efforts, including:

  • Making staff available to state health departments through the COVID Workforce Initiative. This additional support from the CDC Foundation can be obtained by contacting CDC at this link.
  • Publishing a start-up guide for schools on how to launch screening testing programs.
  • Holding weekly “office hours” to connect schools to national testing experts to set up and sustain screening testing programs.
  • Launching a directory for schools to identify a provider and get started with testing within their state.
  • Releasing guidance for school districts on using American Rescue Plan funds to provide incentives to parents and guardians to participate in screening programs.
Center for Green Schools 2021 Logo

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: School Indoor Air Quality Fact Sheets

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (CfGS) developed a series of fact sheets about indoor air quality, designed to help people without a technical background understand some of the more complicated issues. While important public health measures are debated in schools across the country, indoor air quality measures offer a way to take concrete action to increase protection for everyone in school. CfGS brought together dozens of experts to create simple, straightforward resources about the most pressing topics. The series includes an overview, which gives a foundation, as well as fact sheets on ventilation, HVAC filtration, in-room air cleaners, and germicidal UV. More fact sheets are on their way and will be added to the series over the next month. 

Douglas Byrd High School Academy of Green Technology Student Led Tour

2019 ED-GRS honoree Douglas Byrd Academy was recently featured on A Matter of Fact with Soledad O'Brien for its Academy of Green Technology.


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Winter


The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,500 sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and teach effective environmental education. Consult the webinar calendar, and submit suggestions for listing additional free, publicly available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Nov. 24, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Decarbonization:  How Do Our Current Needs Fit into the Transition? (Green Teacher)

Nov. 30, 2-3:30 p.m. Energizing STEM (ED and DOE) 

Nov. 30, 6-7 p.m. NASA’s Hunt for Signs of Life... Earth Reflections (NASA)

Dec. 1, 12-1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Dec. 1, 3-4 p.m.  Summarizing Your STARS Report for Senior Leadership (AASHE)

Dec. 2, 1-2 p.m. 2022 Competition:  Rules and Tracking Requirements (Campus Race to Zero Waste)

Dec. 6, 1-2 p.m. NASA’s Beginning Engineering Science and Technology Curriculum (NASA)

Dec. 9, 3:30-5 p.m. Environmental Literacy (ED and NOAA)

Dec. 9, 2-3:15 p.m.  Working Together to Save Energy (EPA)

Dec. 14, 1-2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Dec. 15, 12-1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Dec. 15, 2-3 p.m. Tracking and Reporting GHG Emissions (EPA)

Dec. 16, 1-2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Dec. 16, 2-3 p.m. Diversion Upstream:  Working with Purchasing to Prevent Waste (CURC)

Dec. 22, 1-2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Happy Thanksgiving Green Globe In Hands

Connect With Green Strides

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